A successful pipeline project depends on safely getting large and heavy equipment to the site. If the pipeline is hundreds of miles long, or even just a few dozen miles, this is no small feat. Using heavy equipment construction mats is essential for transporting people and equipment over varied terrain with minimal impact on the ground below.
Why You Need Mats for Heavy Equipment
Construction mats for large equipment are designed to distribute the weight over a larger area. The result is minimal disturbance to the soil and plants under the mats and a smooth and safe access route for people and equipment. Mats are used to make temporary roads, staging platforms, and storage areas for pipelayers, pipe bending machines, multipurpose tractors, and other heavy equipment used to install and repair pipelines.
It is often impossible to avoid using mats, and even when it may be possible it is inadvisable. Heavy equipment can’t be safely moved through areas with soft terrain or swampy land. Even when the ground is firm enough to handle heavy equipment, it compacts the soil and disturbs plant life. Environmental regulations may not allow this type of activity, and even if they do, using mats will dramatically reduce the cost of post-project restoration.
Using the incorrect mats is also problematic. On the one hand, mats that are too light-duty may not be able to withstand the weight of heavy equipment or frequency of traffic. This could cause safety issues or unintentional violation of environmental regulations. On the other hand, getting mats that exceed the requirements leads to unnecessary expense.
Types of Construction Mats for Large Equipment
Many types of construction mats for large equipment have been developed, and innovation is still happening in this field. Some of the types of mats most commonly used for pipeline projects include:
Timber mats: Made from hardwood, these heavy-duty mats are durable and well suited for laying pipelines. They can be used on either flat or uneven terrain.
Composite mats: Heavy-duty composite mats, made from different types of plastics, are well suited to high-traffic worksites. They are lighter than laminated or 3-ply mats and tend to have a longer lifespan.
Hybrid mats: Mixed wood mats, like TIMBERLITE™ access mats, combine the strength and durability of hardwood with the lighter weight of softwoods to provide a cost-effective solution.
These represent the various types of mats that can be used, but it often makes sense to use a combination of mats for a pipeline project. For example, areas that will only have traffic from rubber-tired vehicles may only need 3-ply, laminated, or CLT mats to provide safe access.
How to Choose the Right Heavy Equipment Construction Mats
Selecting construction mats for large equipment is a serious undertaking that requires professional expertise because choosing the wrong mats could have serious consequences.
Understand the Terrain
Pipeline construction could require transporting people, materials, and heavy equipment through mud, steep slopes, across streams, or through protected lands. Weather and seasonal factors also play a role in mat selection because the terrain might change based on the amount of water present, the presence of ice and snow, and other conditions.
Understand the Local Regulations
Working on protected land, through private right-of-ways, and in previously untouched areas often comes with restrictions. Understanding these regulations and any landowner requirements for restoration is critical when planning a pipeline project and selecting mats.
Understand How They Will Be Used
When selecting mats, it’s important to know the types of vehicles and equipment that will be used, their weights and sizes, the frequency of travel, and the duration of the project. Additionally, will they only be used for transporting equipment and pipe, or will they be used for equipment needed to install/drop the pipe in the ground? This type of installation requires a sturdy platform that can support the equipment and the pipe.
Get Expert Advice from YAK ACCESS
At YAK ACCESS, our No. 1 priority is to ensure that you have the right heavy equipment construction mats for your pipeline project, not to sell you specific brands. Our experienced team will work closely with you to determine what types of mats you need and what installation methods make the most sense. This includes suggesting the appropriate combination of mats and the most cost-effective installation strategies.
Our access guide is a good place to start when selecting mats for your next pipeline project. Download the access guide today to learn more.